Jersey Supreme Asparagus
Asparagus is a long-lived hardy perennial vegetable that can produce for 20 to 30 years or more. Young shoots, called spears, are harvested in spring and eaten steamed, boiled, roasted, or in soups. One of the earliest producing vegetable crops. Has separate male and female plants, but high-yielding all male selections are also available. Plants are hardy in zones 3 to 10.
A range of different of asparagus varieties are available, including heirloom varieties like Mary Washington and hybrids like Jersey Knight. Asparagus is usually dioecious, with plants producing either male or female flowers. Female plants produce red berries in fall that contain seeds.
There are also varieties developed to be all male or predominantly male, with few to no female plants. The advantage to these male types is that plants do not spend energy producing fruit or seeds, so they are generally more productive than dioecious varieties and are often earlier to begin producing.
How To Plant
Asparagus is usually planted in trenches 8 to 10 inches deep and wide and well amended with compost. Set crowns in the bottom of the trench with the roots spread evenly, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart in the rows. Cover crowns initially with 2 to 3 inches of soil and add additional soil mixed with compost each week as plants grow, until the trenches are completely filled. Rows are usually spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. In heavy soils, raised beds can be used to improve drainage.
For full sun in fertile, well-drained soil. Do not harvest in the first season, and harvest only lightly in the second season to allow plants to become established and promote long-term productivity. Spears are produced from buds on the underground crown, and it is essential to not over-harvest so plants have sufficient time to replenish their food stores before fall.
Asparagus is a moderate to heavy feeder that should be fertilized regularly for best production. Use full rates of Jung's Jump Start Asparagus Food 17-16-28, Algofplus All-Purpose Liquid Fertilizer 6-6-6, or Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1.
Usually not seriously troubled by pests or diseases. Aphids and asparagus beetles (common and spotted types) sometimes feed on plants. Fusarium rot and rust diseases are occasional problems. Planting disease resistant varieties helps to prevent disease problems. Shoots infected with rust disease should be cut off and destroyed at the end of the season after they die back.
Other hardy perennial vegetable crops are Jerusalem Artichoke and Rhubarb
Coop Poop or Black Gold Earthworm Castings can be used to enrich the soil at planting. Pyrethrin Spray, 70% Neem Oil Concentrate, or Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew can be used to treat insect problems.
The ferny, leaflike structures on Asparagus stems are not actually leaves, but are modified stems. Asparagus has a long history of cultivation and has been grown for at least 2,000 years.
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